Friends of cyclist killed in hit-and-run say buzzing reason for crash

Published On: Oct 31 2011 02:18:44 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 31 2011 05:12:00 PM EDT

Jennifer Waugh explains the seriousness behind buzzing.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -

Friends of a college student who was riding a bike and killed in a hit-and-run crash in April say they believe what happened to the 23-year-old was something called buzzing, a prank that more cyclists are seeing on the road.

Bryan Wrigley, who was a student at the University of St. Augustine, was found dead in a ditch on the side of County Road 214, near Molasses Junction, after he was hit by a pickup truck.

"It just doesn't make sense that it just drifted over and accidentally hit him," Wrigley's friend Todd Neville said.

Neville said he has never believed the theory that the driver who hit Wrigley while he cycled alone was distracted. Neither has Dave Thorpe, another friend of Wrigley's.

"It's hard to imagine how something like this could happen and it not be intentional," Thorpe said.

Both of the avid cyclists say they think the driver who hit Wrigley was trying to buzz him and something went wrong.

"It's when a car decides for whatever reason to harrass the cyclist just for fun, for kicks because they're annoyed with the cyclist to come extremely close," Neville said.

He said the driver has the idea of running the cyclist off the road or knocking him off his bike as a bad joke.

Even traffic homicide investigators say it's very possible what happened to Wrigley started out as buzzing.Sketch Of Bicycle Hit-And-Run Suspect

Investigators say that based on evidence they have, there is no question that the driver was traveling in the opposite direction as Wrigley and would have had to come all the way across the street to have hit him.

"When you look at this stretch of the road you have a three-mile straightaway here," Neville said. "It really seems intentional that the driver went out of his way to either scare Bryan or maybe it was to actually hit him, but I hope that it wasn't to actually hit him."

Neville and Thorpe say it's unbelieveable how angry drivers can get if they get stuck behind a cyclist.

"Every other day we have a car that comes by within inches of your handle bars," Thorpe said.

"I've had somebody hit me in the head with an orange," Neville said.

Neville and Thorpe ride two abreast so drivers can see them better than if they rode single file.

What many people don't know is that state law requires drivers to give cyclists three feet when they pass them. Also, on a multi-lane road, the law gives cyclists the right to ride like a driver in the middle of a lane, and drivers may have to slow behind the cyclists until it's safe to pass in the left lane.

Both men say they are even more cautious since Wrigley's death and they try to focus on the friend they lost, not the driver who killed him.

"You could tell when you were riding with him that he was so enthusiastic about being out here. He just loved it," Thorpe said.

Both men say they'll never forget the day Wrigley died. They were riding with another group when all of them started getting constant text messages from their wives.

No one knew who had been killed. Their wives were checking on them.

Investigators say the driver who hit Wrigley on April 13 is in his late teens or early 20s. He was driving a metallic blue Ford Ranger extended cab pickup truck made made between 2001 and 2003.

Deputies say they think it's very possible the driver's family knows what he did.

If you have any information that can help solve Wrigley's case, call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.

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